More than 1.5M refugees fled Ukraine; humanitarian groups worried

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March 6 (UPI) — More than 1.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine for neighboring countries in the past 10 days, United Nations officials said on Sunday.

Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, called the situation “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II” in a statement posted to Twitter.

Nearly 60% of the refugees, around 885,303 people, have crossed the border into Poland alone, according to data from the UNHCR.

Data show that 169,053 have sought refuge in Hungary while 113,967 have traveled to Slovakia, 84,067 have fled to Moldova and 71,640 have gone to Romania.

Also some refugees, about 53,300, have traveled to Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine and just 406 people have gone to Belarus, which has aided Russia in its invasion.

Humanitarian aid groups have expressed worry for civilians in Ukraine, reporting that hospitals have not been able to receive medical supplies and that residents of besieged cities do not have access to food, water or heat.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement that only one hospital is operational in the city of Severodonetsk.

“They’ve just got access to critically needed supplies. This includes medical items, like dressing materials, disinfectants, and antibiotics plus basic hygiene necessities, like soap, diapers and candles,” the organization said.

Evacuations were stopped for the second time Sunday as Russian forces shelled the city, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk Region Military Administration, announced in a statement posted to Facebook.

“The evacuation column with the local population could not leave today outside Mariupol: the Russians began regrouping their forces and a powerful shelling of the city,” Kyrylenko said. “It is extremely dangerous to take people out under such conditions.”

Martin Schüepp, the ICRC’s regional director for Europe, called the situation in the coastal town of Mariupol particularly devastating.

“People are increasingly desperate. For two days, we have tried to help with the evacuation of civilians who want to leave the city,” Schüepp said.

“Our team began opening up the evacuation route from Mariupol before hostilities resumed.”

Doctors Without Borders, the humanitarian aid group, said Saturday that it had received reports from its staff trapped in the city that supermarkets had been hit by Russian missiles.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sunday released a report noting that Russian forces have killed at least 364 civilians in the country and injured another 759 civilians.

Of those killed, 25 of them have been children while 41 children have been injured, according to the OHCHR report.

Most of the casualties have been in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, where 88 people have been killed and 415 have been injured.


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